The Love for Beads among the Ghanaian

Francis Kwasi Selormey Amenakpor, Emma Donkor, Catherine Adu, Emelia Yayra Horsey


Beads were probably the first durable ornaments human possessed. Intriguing objects that one must ask the basic question of what, where, when and how whenever an interesting bead is encountered. Robert K. Liu in Dubin L-S (1995:9). This is because there are bundles of secrets waiting to be unearthed, their philosophy, technology, history; cultural context, economic role and ornamental use are all points of information one must unravel. Beads are small pierced or perforated objects usually spherical that may be strung into necklaces and bracelets or attached to clothing or furnishings. The English word bead is derived from the medieval English word “bede” meaning prayer. The name was first transferred to strung objects used in prayer, such as the rosaries (prayer beads) and then to other kinds of stung objects. Encyclopaedia Americana vol. 3 (1970). Beads have played important role in the beliefs and practices of sympathetic magic, love and fertility charms. Africa, the centre of ancient civilizations has a lot to contribute to the development and use of beads. They have been used throughout ages and in virtually every culture not just for adornment but also to express social circumstance, political occurrences and religious beliefs as a form of currency or as symbolic embodiment of curative powers. Beads are some of the most stunningly attractive and varied items of jewellery. From the breath taking gold designs of ancient Egypt to the exciting renaissance of bead craftsmanship taking place today. Beads have been one of the most popular forms of personal adornment however; they have been much more than jewellery. Beads have been used throughout the world in countless ways: as talismans in prehistoric and contemporary societies: as status symbols in ancient world and in modern Africa: as religious artefacts in the Buddhist, Christian, Hindu and Islamic faith and in the middle ages, as a standard medium of barter in almost every country. Bead is one of the rich and never – fading assets of the Ghanaian culture. They can be strung with special threads to produce artefacts like bangles, necklaces, earrings and foot wears in the Ghanaian society. Bead is locally produced at Krobo (Somanya) in the Eastern region. Beads are made in Ghana from a mixture of clay and broken bottles with various colorants and passed through fire. There are other forms of bead: Seeds, wood, bones, paper and plastic. Beads can be used for every occasion but really depend on the colour and most importantly bright colour for joyous moments and dark colours for sad events. It is known that beads distinguished particular clan from the other in the Ghanaian cultural set – up and that; ‘Ekuona’ clan of the Akan is characterized by the use of beads for both Sexes. Beads help to shape up and broaden a woman’s hips and make her buttocks heavy and also differentiate a man from a woman. Comparing morality on the use of beads today and long ago, as young ladies of today do not dress properly as it is only their or ones husband who has the authority to see a woman’s beads. Beads are used mostly among the female population, especially around the waist. Generally beads are used to decorate the body. Apart from the waist, beads may be worn as earrings, as necklaces and bracelets: on the wrist, and also on the knee, leg and many other parts of the body. Sometimes the female child is adorned with beads at the joints usually to enhance the development of her shape. Huber, (1993). Described how beads are used in the various rites of passage name: The naming ceremony of the Krobos, in the dipo, marriage and death. Beads are used during puberty rites such as Bragoro of the Akans, Gbotowowo of the Ewes (Eveawo) and Dipo of the Krobos. Beads are used to decorate the dead when laid in state while some also use it to bury their dead. Beads use is most popular among sections of the Ga – Adangmes, notably among the Krobos. The Krobos used to mine beads, they dug for beads from the ground in the ancient days, but this concept of beads found from under the earth has perhaps led the contemporary producers burying their beads in the ground for a year or so for it to cure. This they believe gives the beads longer life and beauty. Among the many places that beads are produced in Ghana are Odumase – Krobo, Asuafua – Asamang, and Sekusua Bamase where beads are made in almost every household.

Key words: Beads, Beadwork, Beading, Beadier, Kiln, Chevron Beads.

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